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TribBlog: Speaker Candidates on Anti-Semitism

Both GOP challengers to House Speaker Joe Straus, R-San Antonio, are distancing themselves from activist efforts to emphasize the speaker's Jewish faith.

State Rep. Warren Chisum, R-Pampa and state Rep. Ken Paxton, R-McKinney

Both Republican challengers to House Speaker Joe Straus are walking back from anti-Semitic charges being used by conservative activists against the sitting speaker, who is Jewish. Robocalls invoking Christianity are reportedly being made to GOP voters in various markets, and The Dallas Morning News reports of e-mails being sent to voters:

"Straus is going down in Jesus' name," said one [email], whose origins were unclear. Straus, R-San Antonio, "clearly lacks the moral compass to be speaker," said another, written by Southeast Texas conservative activist Peter Morrison.

State Rep. Ken Paxton, R-McKinney, and state Rep. Warren Chisum, R-Pampa, have separately released statements distancing themselves from the subject this afternoon.

“There is absolutely no place for religious bigotry in the race for Texas Speaker, and I categorically condemn such action," Paxton said. "Furthermore, it is just as shameful for anyone to imply that I would ever condone this type of behavior. My campaign is singularly focused on a message of providing proven, dependable conservative leadership to the Texas House.”

From Chisum:

"It has come to my attention that some people outside the legislature are insinuating that your or my faith is an issue in the race for Speaker of the House. I assure you that those sorts of attacks on a man's religion have absolutely no place in the race for Speaker. None. I absolutely reject all such attacks or insinuations."

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State government Joe Straus Ken Paxton Texas House of Representatives Texas Legislature